How to get faster broadband

Millions of homeowners across the UK are still struggling with slow internet speeds.

Ofcom, the broadband industry regulator has recently opened the doors for service providers to invest in technology for super fast broadband connections, that in the future will deliver speeds many times faster than those we have today.

However, for those of us who already enjoy services such as online gaming, streaming movies, downloading music or watching TV through the internet, it will be a long wait for this technology to become available.

To help frustrated users who want faster broadband now, we have put together a list of top tips and suggestions to help improve your current broadband service.


1. Take a Broadband Speed Test

Use our broadband speed test to determine how fast your existing internet connection is.

Click here to test your broadband speed

After you take the broadband speed test compare the results with the advertised speed of your package, if it is considerably below the advertised speed you might want to consider swapping to a better connection.

Most deals that are advertised at a higher speed than you can actually get, so ‘8MB’ will mean you will receive a download speed of “up to 8mb”. The speed you receive will also vary in peak periods and depends on how far away you are from the telephone exchange.  

We will publish the results of our broadband speed tests soon, so you can get a better idea of how all the top broadband providers compare.


2. Improve the speed of your existing connection.

Switching provider may be a good no hassle option to get faster broadband, but if you are locked into a contract that may not be an option.

There are a several factor that can affect your broadband speed that are beyond your control, such as the number of people using the same broadband provider in your area, or your distance from your telephone exchange. There are some factors though that you can control. Try some of the suggestions below to see if you can improve the speed of your existing broadband…

1. Don't use telephone cable extensions

Don’t use a telephone extension cable, as a poor quality cable can cause interference on the line and reduce the broadband speed. Try connecting the router directly to the phone socket and then connect the computer to the router using a long Ethernet cable. Ethernet cable extensions will not affect you download speed and can be purchased in any computer store.

If you have no alternative but to use a telephone extension cable make sure it is a good quality new one and is as short as possible

2. Electrical interference

Keep your modem away from mains power cables and electrical gadgets as they can cause interference.  Devices with motors will also cause interference on your line.

3. Get a newer modem or router

Is your modem old? Consider purchasing a new one or approach your broadband provider who may be willing to upgrade it free of charge.  Chipsets in older equipment may not be able to cope with the faster broadband than they were designer for.

4. Test for computer virusus

It is important that your anti-virus software is up to date as Trojans, worms and viruses can really slow down computers speeds. Good anti-virus software is vital and there are many good quality free versions available.

5. Optimise Your PC

If your PC doesn’t seem to run as fast or as smoothly as it used to this could be caused by programs or application that you use rarely (or not at all)  bogging it down.  Lots of programs will also “discreetly” use you internet connection to check for updates or call home to delivery usage statistics.

Do some housekeeping on your computer and uninstall anything that you don’t use.

For a free computer performance scan online click here: Speed up my PC

6. Make sure your wireless connection is secure

It is now common for home users to connect laptops and PCs using a wireless router.  The router links all the computers in your home or workplace together so that they share an Internet connection without the need for messy wires.

If you use a wireless router it is important that you set up a password for your network to ensure that computer users living nearby cannot connect to your broadband wireless network.

If you do not use your wireless regularly make sure that the router is switched off as it may slow down your wired connection.

Check out our wireless security guide if you need help.

7. Use micro filters on your telephone sockets.

Ensure any phone socket that you connect your router or modem to has a micro filter attached. Micro-filters are plugged directly into the phone socket and provide separate connections for your phone and your Internet. Use of a microfilter helps cut out any interference between the two connections.

8. Get a BT iPlate installed

An iPlate is a replacement cover for the master phone socket in your home. The electronics inside it boost your phone line and reduce interference.  If you have more than one telephone socket in your house and your broadband is slow then installing an iPlate is a good idea.  It can be fitted easily in around 10 minutes and costs around £8. Increased download speeds of around 1.5Mb have been reported after fitting.

9. Check if your provider has a "fair usage" policy.

Some providers have a “fair usage policy”. In the terms of such a policy your broadband speed may be capped if the provider thinks you are downloading more heavily than you should be.

Check out this article about recent changes to Virgin media’s fair usage policy.

10. Check your browser settings

Many pc users use internet explorer, the Microsoft web browser that comes on all windows machines. If you’ve had your PC a while it might have an old version installed, which could slow down your browsing. IE6 for example downloads the content of a webpage in sequential order which is not very efficient, as image heavy pages will take longer to download.

Mozilla based browsers such as firefox, run a bit faster than Internet Explorer and can help make your broadband connection feel faster.


3. Switch to a faster package

Many people choose a package and stick with the same provider for many years, but broadband is different to the other utilities you receive.

Broadband internet is the only utility where the technology is constantly improving, and increased competition in the market constantly is pushing prices down.  If you opted for a 1mb or 2mb package only a couple of years ago you will find the entry level package available from most providers now 4 times faster.  

Broadband providers offer great deals to entice new customers to use their products, and switching to a new provider may get you faster broadband at no extra cost. If you have had your broadband for more than a year then chances are your contract has expired and you are free to shop around!

Get Some Freebies!

If you are wanting to go wireless and you don’t have a router, switching to a new provider offering a FREE wireless router can save you the cost of buying one, whilst also ensuring you are getting the cheapest or fastest deal you can.

If you are considering mobile broadband but you are yet to buy a laptop, then it is even possible to get a deal where a laptop is included.

For more information on the switching broadband have a look at our "How to switch broadband provider" page.


Comparing Broadband Deals

ADSL Vs Cable Broadband

ADSL broadband is delivered through your telephone line, and to get close to the advertised ADSL broadband speeds you will need to live close to a your local telephone exchange. Cable broadband is not affected by distance to a telephone exchange, but its availability is more limited as it requires the fibre optic cables have been installed in your street. If you can get cable TV then you will be able to get cable broadband.

Moving house?

If you are thinking of moving house, and because of work commitments, you consider your broadband connection to be of vital importance, it might be an idea to check out where the local exchange is before you buy. The closer you are the faster your ADSL will be.

Whos Fastest?

Broadband packages currently range from 2Mb -50Mb, with most providers offering 8Mb as a minimum. Virgin Media currently offers the countries fastest broadband with its cable package offering speeds of up to 50Mb. At this speed you can download a song in 1 second! Its costs £50 a month, but this price can be cut to £35 if you also take their phone package.

BE Broadbands ADSL2+ broadband offers speeds of up to 24 Mb for around £17 a month. BT is the countries biggest provider offering speeds from 8Mb to 20Mb, and BT consistently perform well in broadband speed tests. O2’s standard broadband offers unlimited downloads for only £12 a month.

Of course you may not want the very fastest broadband available. To compare all deals available click on the link below.

Compare broadband deals on our home broadband comparison page. Click here

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Slow Broadband? Try our Broadband Speed Test to see how fast your connection is. Click "Start Speed Test" at the top of the Broadband Test page